Michelle Valles, Fabian Rodriguez
Employee protests combined with problems from last year have raised concerns for some shoppers when it comes to shopping at the mega retailer on Black Friday. Worried about hectic crowds, some shoppers say they'll skip Black Friday altogether. Michelle Valles reports from Rosemead for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2012.
Last year’s Black Friday madness at a Porter Ranch Walmart in which a woman jockeying for a discounted Xbox pepper sprayed the crowd is still fresh in many shoppers’ minds as the busiest shopping of the year rolls around again.
Twenty people were injured last year at the Porter Ranch Walmart, which has reportedly hired 27 security guards to make sure there isn’t a repeat of trouble. But it’s still not worth the risk to one father who said he’s passing up a major TV discount.
"Everybody's going to be going crazy and for me, I don't like that,” said Richard Williams. “So, the best thing for me to do is shop now, instead of tomorrow.”
Walmart executives say they're confident about their individualized safety plans, and are also downplaying the worker and union protests expected to take place at 1,000 Walmart stores nationwide, including in Southern California, on Black Friday.
"I don't think it's going to affect our black Friday sales on Thursday or Friday," said spokeswoman Rachel Wall.
But Wednesday afternoon at a Walmart in Rosemead, there were only a handful of people in line to cash in on those sales, and lots of empty barriers.
Still, Walmart hopes to lure in customers by matching any competitors’ prices. And to make things more orderly, they're moving hot-ticket items close to the registers. There's even an smart phone app which gives customers a floor plan and merchandise locator.